UI – Part 396 – Tell Me About Yourself
On the surface we have our ID. It may be a driver’s license, a passport, or depending on an affiliation with some organization a card signifying membership. A fingerprint, or our DNA can be quite revealing as to the physical person. But that is not who we are. A Social Security Number provides a link between a citizen or employee in the USA and the Government, enabling taxes to be paid and properly associated with the correct individual. So you may be a card carrying member of many an organization with varying views or affinities, but again that is not who you are. From the collection of your credit cards to license, and all in between, some form of picture may be possible, but certainly incomplete. Now answer for me the question, tell me who you are? I am interested in the whole person, the internal unique individual within.
This is a question I feel is most difficult for a Muslim to answer, and for many, impossible.
Who Am I?
Fundamental philosophical concerns are, ‘why do I exist’ ‘why am I here’ and ‘what is my purpose?’ They are root questions that may reveal the true you. We may have an upbringing with both parents, part of a complete family, or just one, an environment broken by divorce or a tragic incident, and lastly, alone, with no parents, orphaned. How we are raised and where we are raised can influence our nature, but the identity ask still remains. Everyone, regardless of their childhood location and development, is independent by nature, yet subject to factors filling the brain about society, culture, sex, religion, habits, ethics, manners, dress, cleanliness, opportunities, and so on. These influences can shape our looks, our attitude, and our place in the places in which we live. But internally are we who we want to be, think we are, or should be? The directions we obey or follow may lead us to locales thought to be best, but then again lack in satisfaction. When we are empty, we are not fulfilled, and yet we may be rich or poor, a success or failure, relative factors that judge how others perceive us, but not how we perceive ourselves. On the outside we may be charismatic and strong, but on the inside lack self-esteem and hide our weaknesses. In truth we may be deceiving the outside world while internally we are torn by the truth of who we are or could be or may be.
Home, wherever that may be for you, is a safe and stable place. It is a comfort zone where we can relax and be who we are, without being subject to criticism, ridicule, harassment or even unwarranted accolades. It may be where we are loved unconditionally, or simply accepted without judgment. Where is home for you?
In much of the Middle East, the Muslim world, there is confusion. Many are displaced citizens, parents without children, children lost in conflict, or children without parents, taken from them, or orphaned. Young men are conscripted to serve Allah, but as a militant force against any who do not welcome openly Islam’s progress or presence. Young women are called upon to reproduce, fill the void created by those dying for the cause, care for their man, and hide themselves from society unless accompanied by a male. The spirit of the person is shaped by the history of Islamic heritage and culture, subject to restraints on individuality by dictates from religious scholars or teachers, the Imams, peer pressure, Islamic laws, and governmental controls. Right and wrong may be defined by your government, your faith, or common sense.
The ideology of Islam is particularly restricting as it requires uncompromising obedience to the example of the mortal self-proclaimed prophet Muhammad and the Quran, words of Allah received through an intermediary, Gabriel, by an illiterate man, again Muhammad. The laws established for Muslims demand the blinders remain firmly in place so that the influences of outside factors, to include other religions, one such as followed by the largest numbers in the world, Christianity, be ignored. It is an ideology, a way of life, with commands as to what is right, even though human rights violations may be at play when viewed in light of and by the modern world, and forbids what is wrong, as Islam defines. For instance, it is wrong to leave Islam. You would be an apostate, even if you do not agree with the demands, the logic, the legal system or the practices required. It is difficult to even question Islam, to explore its foundations and determine if you have options. That is forbidden. From the formative days of learning, hatred for those not adherents to the program of Islam is encouraged. The infidel is destined for Hades, while the Islamist will discover Paradise if Allah decides. Joy and laughter are viewed negatively as the focus must be serious and only on Allah. There is no fun in Islam.
Why wouldn’t anyone, a Muslim, subject to so many barriers to independent thought consider at any moment just who they are?
Muslim? – Not Really
Many Muslims answer ‘I am a Muslim,’ but in fact they are not. It may be what their society, their culture, demands, but not what they personally feel or believe is who they are. It is not how they would prefer to be identified. What then? What if they believe in Christ? What if their dreams lead them away from Islam? What if they love another that has not been chosen for them? What if at 6, 7, 8, or 9, a female, you do not want to marry a tribal male your family choose? What if you want to learn more, and cannot, and you question your freedom, your opportunities, and the answers are not to your liking or acceptable to who you would like to become, at least to try to become?
Born into a family, a culture, an environment, or a location is a starter to how we may be labeled, but not a true defining element in who we may or can become. God has given humans that significant differentiating factor from all other animals. It is the gift of intellect, of discernment, the ability to reason and to learn. When fully informed, educated, having experiences, and other life influences our thinking is shaped and we may realize we are not what our surroundings expect or demand. We are different from who we are supposed to be. We are who we are. But then comes the problem. How do we express ourselves, what are the consequences, and how can we remove the shell and break free, the consequences fully known and considered?
Exposing who you truly are, how you feel, what you believe, makes you vulnerable, but at the same time liberated. Nabeel Qureshi was a Muslim, his parents Muslim missionaries. He knew the Quran. He could debate with Christians. But there came a moment when he discovered who he was. He was able to ask god, and the answer, as well as what he had to do, and what to expect, came from the Bible, not the Quran. He wrote his story, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, and tells the world about himself. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is from Somalia, she too discovered her ID was not as a Muslim. After leaving her Country to live in the Netherlands she discovered freedom and was able to find answers to questions that filled her mind. She has written several books, two come to mind, Infidel and Heretic.
The God Question
Think about who you are. Can you describe to others honestly what you believe? Do you feel restrained in being the person you want to be? Do you know God? Do you have a relationship with the Lord? Are you in denial or prevented from saying and sharing what you feel or accept? How would you answer God when you arrive at his gates when asked, “Tell Me About Yourself.”
What do you think God might ask first?
Grace and Peace
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